For years the Long Island championship was the ultimate goal for tennis teams in Nassau and Suffolk.
But beginning this school year they will be able to dream a little bit bigger.
A state tournament has been adopted for both boys and girls and will consist of four regional finalists in both Division I (enrollment of 600 or more) and Division II (enrollment of 599 or fewer). It will be held on a different weekend than the individual state tournament.
The winner of the Long Island championship will determine the south representative and play in the final four at the National Tennis Center in Flushing.
"This is really going to motivate all the boys and girls who play tennis on Long Island," Shai Fisher, Nassau girls tennis coordinator and the head coach of the Syosset boys and girls teams said. "They’re finally given an opportunity to move on past just Long Island and to a state semifinal."
The matches in the Division I tournament will consist of four individual singles matches and three doubles for the boys, while the girls will have three singles and four doubles. In Division II both boys and girls will play a best-of-five consisting of three singles and two doubles.
Regular season matches in Suffolk are currently played with four singles and three doubles for both boys and girls, but Suffolk will be adopting the format of the state tournament beginning in its county tournament.
Suffolk will be changing its regular season alignment to match that of the state tournament. Division I will consist of 39 large schools, divided into an east and west subdivision to help with travel considerations, boys and girls coordinator Mark Mensch said. The small schools will compete in Division II.
They will also power rank each division, similar to football and lacrosse, in order to help lessen the ability gap between some of the schools.
"It's a tremendous opportunity for more kids to experience the state championship," Mensch said. "And for the smaller schools who wouldn’t compete with the bigger schools it allows another group of teams to qualify to win a state title."
Nassau will keep its ability based conference alignment and has not yet decided if they will change the format of the individual matches once the playoffs begin, Fisher said. They will have a 14 team tournament in Division I and a six team tournament in Division II.
"This is creating even more enthusiasm for the sport amongst the teams that really want to get to the next level," Fisher said. "It’s creating a lot of positive energy."